Hartley Magazine

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Grow Your Own Mango Plant

You can easily grow your own greenhouse mango tree. If you decide to grow a mango the first step is to find a suitable mango. Most mangoes grown in America, according to the National Mango Board (www.mango.org) are either ‘Tommy Atkins’ or ‘Palmer.’ Tommy Atkins has slightly green and orange-red skin than does Palmer, which tends toward a green and crimson skin. You can also grow a golden Ataulfa mango which are sometimes called golden, honey or champagne mangoes. I prefer the Ataulfa mango for its sweetness and taste.

First eat your mango and save the pit. I set it on a paper towel to dry.

According to the Mango Board there are seven types of mango mostly grown in Florida and Mexico in summer and farther south in Brazil and Chile during the northern winter. The fruit, which is related to cashew nuts, originated in India and is said to have been brought to the Americas by Spanish explorers.

Cut the pit apart and pull out the seed. Be very careful that you do not cut into the seed.

To grow a tree, you will need to find a perfectly ripe mango. Unfortunately, most mangoes are picked green and allowed to ripen during transit. I have found that Ataulfa mangoes are often the ripest mangoes available and the easiest to start growing. When purchasing a mango gently squeeze the fruit. It should be slightly soft, not hard, not mushy. Step two is to eat the mango. This is often the best part of the entire process!

The seed is ready to be planted.

Save the pit inside the mango and allow it to dry for three or four days. It is easier to handle when it is dry. When the pit is dry, squeeze it gently to get a feel for where the seed is located inside the pit. Usually, there is a slight indentation near the top of the pit with no seed. Very gently, insert a knife into this part and peel back the outer rind. This will leave you with a seed. Gently push the seed into a pot of soil. The best pot to use is a narrow but deep one to accommodate the long tap root. Water the pot well and set it in a warm spot where the temperature will not drop below 70 degrees F.

After ten days to two weeks you should see a shoot start to grow.

In about a week to ten days the seed will begin to lift from the soil. All this means is that the tap root has started to grow. (Pull very gently on the seed to see if it has rooted. It will not come out of the soil if the root has started to grow.) A week or two after that a small stalk will begin to show. This stalk will sprout leaves and your mango will begin to grow. Keep the mango in a warm place where the temperature will not drop much below 60 degrees F and it will keep growing. If the temperature drops below 60 degrees F the mango will sometimes drop all its leaves, but if you keep it warm and water it well, it will usually grow new leaves.

This mango seedling is about six months old.

As your mango grows, keep moving it into larger pots. The plant has a very long tap root, so the best type of pot is a deep one that is not too wide. Fertilize it once a month with a general purpose fertilizer and watch it grow. In tropical areas mango trees can grow to 100 feet, but when they are grown for the fruit they are usually pruned to a manageable height. Your potted mango may never reach that height, but it will provide a dense cluster of slightly leathery leaves and may, after five or six years, produce flowers and fruit. If it produces flowers, you will need to set it where insects can pollinate it to get fruit.

The mango plant at about 14 months old. It will need to be kept in a warm spot for the winter months.